Heavy snowfall for Hwy. 1

A heavy snowfall warning has been issued by Environment Canada for the Trans-Canada Highway from Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass.

Snowfall of 15 to 25 centimetres is expected on Sunday.

“A Pacific front moving across the BC Interior is spreading snow to the region today and tonight,” states Environment Canada.

The heaviest snow is expected across the North and West Columbia, Kinbasket and North Thompson regions.

The snow is expected to move southward and Arrow Lakes - Slocan Lake, Kootenay Lake, and Kootenay Pass will see heavy snowfall by Sunday night.

Snowfall is expected to taper off on Monday.

“Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions,” states Environment Canada.

For updates on road conditions visit this link.


Winslet back in Vancouver

British actress Kate Winslet has been spotted in Vancouver again.

Winslet praised Vancouver at the Toronto International Film Festival in September after filming "The Mountain Between Us" in B.C. last winter.

And, earlier this month, she was snapped in a Honey's Doughnuts T-shirt.

Just this week, the Academy Award winner was spotted at the Maenam Thai restaurant in Kitsilano – said to be one of her favourites – and the restaurant shared an image of Winslet with one of the owners on its Instagram page.

Winslet is reportedly in Vancouver for another film project, although its title has not been revealed.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Seniors pushed to brink

Skyrocketing rents and dwindling affordable-housing units in Vancouver are driving seniors to the brink of homelessness, forcing some to couch surf, seek roommates or even live in cars, advocates say.

While the debate over the city's housing crisis often focuses on millennials, people who work with seniors say elderly adults have lower incomes and fewer supports to withstand being displaced from their homes.

"People end up living on the streets, or living in their cars, or crashing with friends, sleeping on the couch," said Linda Forsythe, a board member of 411 Seniors Centre Society.

"That used to happen a lot with young people," she said. "They could tolerate it quite well, and sort of get on with their lives, whereas, with older people, you don't have a chance to make more money. That's the problem."

Seniors are enduring the same rent hikes as other tenants in Vancouver, but have disproportionately lower incomes and higher medical costs. A provincial grant to help elderly renters has not kept pace, and subsidized units have decreased, experts say.

Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, or SAFER, is a provincial subsidy applied to rent up to a certain cap. The rent cap in the Lower Mainland is $765 a month, even though the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,223, according to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation.

That means a senior who pays $765 a month rent and earns less than $27,000 a year can receive a subsidy of about $200 a month. But someone paying $1,500 a month in rent would receive the same amount.

Outside the Lower Mainland, such as in Victoria or Kelowna, the rent cap drops to $667.

Over the past decade, average rents have risen 45 per cent, but the cap has only gone up by nine per cent, said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.'s seniors' advocate.

"The compounding effect presents the stark reality we have today, which is the huge gap between the SAFER cap of $765 in the Lower Mainland and the rent most people are paying," she said.

Mackenzie called on the province to increase the cap to parallel average rents and adjust it annually.

Elderly homeowners also face challenges. Mackenzie said she has asked the province to allow seniors to not only defer their property taxes but also other expenses, such as strata fees or utility costs, and to set up a borrowing fund for major repairs.

The number of seniors' subsidized housing units have decreased nearly five per cent since 2013, while wait lists have grown, she said.


No Nazi salutes here

A Vancouver concert promoter has announced a zero tolerance policy against hate speech at her shows after a man was witnessed making a Nazi salute.

Nikki Gould with Journeyman Productions says when she was alerted about the man making the gesture at a Dec. 8 heavy metal show at Pub 340, she asked him to leave the venue.

She says he ignored her request and she alerted a bartender who had security escort the man out.

The incident didn't escalate and Journeyman Productions later posted on its Facebook page that it was implementing a zero-tolerance policy for anyone making Nazi gestures or wearing Nazi or racist symbols at future shows.

Gould says a few people have commented that the rule restricts freedom of speech.

But she says people attending concerts should feel safe and be free from racist and discriminatory remarks or symbols.

"I believe we should have a stronger stance against it because sometimes it is kind of brushed over or people don't want confrontation or fights to happen and I get that, but it's not something that belongs in the community," she said.

Is art native enough?

A new public art installation proposed for Victoria has sparked debate over the merit and interpretation of city-funded artwork.

British Columbia artist Luke Ramsey defended the inspiration and design of the sculpture that incorporates a series of colourful surfboard-type arches mimicking the silhouette of an orca at city council last week.

The $250,000 sculpture compliments an interactive sound element of First Nations drumming and singing created by the city's Indigenous artist-in-residence Lindsay Delaronde.

The art will be installed near the city's downtown waterfront, and Councillor Ben Isitt questioned the simplicity of the sculpture and its ability to reflect the Indigenous history of the land.

"Just when I look at the art, it ... doesn't feel like there's a recognition of the local Indigenous context," Isitt said. "Our artist in residence has done great work on a number of projects and I'm not convinced this meets the mark, but I'm open to being convinced."

Other councillors advocated adding a plaque to explain the meaning behind the artwork.

"Just to look at it, I couldn't relate to it as well as when the artist in residence described it and once it was described it brought on a different meaning," said Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Ramsey said the sculpture is not intended to be an Indigenous artwork but a creation of his own reflecting the natural environment surrounding the bustling coastal city and the vessels, such as paddle boards, people use to connect with the water.

"For me it's about exploring simplicity in art and trying to convey something that has a meaning and a definition to it," he said. "To me this is paying reverence to nature and showing this creature that is coming up in an area that is full of a lot of transportation and activity. This is not necessarily a site that you go to but it goes with you it moves with the activity around it."

Councillor Marianne Alto said it's not up to the city to determine or define what is Indigenous art.

"I want to caution us to remember that the context in which we're speaking here is around art," she said. "We need to be cautious about relying on our own interpretation of what reflects Indigenous art and Indigenous history and Indigenous currency."

The design was ultimately approved by council and is expected to be completed in 2018.

IH hosts more clinics today

Drop-in meningococcal immunization clinics are being hosted by Interior Health for a second consecutive day on Sunday across the Okanagan.

The locations where the clinics will be hosted in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton are the same places where they were hosted on Saturday.

The Vernon Health Unit, located at 1440 14 Avenue in Vernon, will be hosting a drop-in clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In Kelowna, the Community Health and Services Centre at 505 Doyle Avenue will host a clinic from noon to 4 p.m.

In Penticton, the Penticton Health Centre at 740 Carmi Avenue will be providing the clinic from noon to 4 p.m. as well.

IH is also hosting drop-in immunization clinics at the UBC Okanagan campus,  on Monday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People aged 15 to 19 years old, who will not have access to clinics that schools are hosting, are advised to get vaccinated at a drop-in clinic. 

In a news release, IH reminded the public that people in the prescribed age group who already received a vaccination shot at their high school — as part of routine immunization for grade nine students — don't need to be vaccinated again.

Immunization clinics will also take place at many high schools from Monday to Friday.

More information on those clinics can be found here.

Star Wars auction a hit

Star Wars fanatics turned out to buy thousands of Star Wars collectibles from a Langley man during an auction on Saturday.

The man's collection was estimated to be worth about $100,000 — with replica lightsabers, a Darth Vader bust and a full-size R2-D2 being some of the most prominent items.

"Instead of having it boxed up where no one could see it he thought he'd sell it off… and let other people enjoy it as much as he did," auction manager Colin Hole said to CTV.

"I mean with the opening of the Star Wars movie and Christmas coming up, you couldn't pick a better time to come down and pick up some Star Wars stuff."

A replica blaster signed by the late Carrie Fisher proved to be one of the highest-selling items — going for just under $2,000.

Star Wars enthusiasts showed up in person from parts Canada and the United States.

No one took part from any galaxy far, far away — but online bidders did from all over the world.

Some who stopped by the auction simply wanted to compare their collection, including Lance Dinahan.

"I have a bunch of Lego at home already," he said to CTV.

"My girlfriend knows about it, so I think I'm safe. She doesn't know I'm here though."

- with files from CTV Vancouver

Diamond given with change

A woman donated a diamond ring by accident to a man she was giving spare change to in Nanaimo.

Trinda Gayek, who resides on Salt Spring Island, dumped her change out of her wallet to give to the man.

She reportedly forgot her diamond ring was in her pouch and donated that too.

Gayek had stopped the man herself to offer spare change, saying he looked like he could use help.

“He didn’t steal the ring... There’s no criminal intent here," Gayek told CTV.

"This is just one of those situations and I sure would like to get the ring back.”

She noted that the man seemed appreciative for her donation, and hopes he will return the diamond ring if he finds out is was mistakenly donated.

- with files from CTV Vancouver Island

Police sketch assault suspect

The Abbotsford Police Department has provided a sketch of a suspect sought related to an assault on the evening of Nov. 14.

An assault on a 23-year-old woman took place in the 31000 block of Maclure Road. 

The woman was followed by the suspect before being pushed from behind. The suspect tried to restrain her, but she was able to escape and avoided injury during the incident.

Images of the male suspect were captured just prior to the assault, helping police to draw out a composite sketch.

He is described as 'chubby,' caucasian and stands about five feet 10 inches tall.

Those with information can contact the APD or CrimeStoppers.

- with files from CTV Vancouver

Violence at homeless camp

A man was attacked at a Vancouver homeless camp Friday as tensions mount due to a looming eviction deadline.

Those living in the homeless encampment had until noon Friday to move out, but occupants refused to move.

The tension boiled over at a news conference when an advocate for the campers attacked a local resident, pushing him to the ground.

The man was riding past the camp on a bike and loudly complained about some people living on the lot.

The cyclist alleged people living in the camp were responsible for bike thefts in the area.

Several bikes and bike parts were visible Friday morning, piled high on a rack and in a shopping cart at the encampment. A partially dismantled scooter was also seen on the property.

The campers denied the bikes were stolen.

Others approached the cyclist, who agreed that there is a need for solutions to poverty, but continued his argument about connections between the encampment and property crime.

As the argument with advocates and residents got heated, a man started to push the cyclist away.

The cyclist and another advocate then became engaged in an argument which quickly escalated with the two men swearing at each other with their faces centimetres apart, before the advocate placed his hands near the cyclist's throat and shoved him away, knocking him off his bike and onto the road.

After more yelling between the cyclist and advocates, the cyclist rode away seemingly unharmed.

The camp was ordered emptied because the city plans on building a housing project on the site.

But advocates said the housing is inadequate and comes with too many rules.

- with files from CTV Vancouver

Guilty plea for child porn

A Vancouver Island man has pleaded guilty to numerous child pornography-related offences charges.

Seamus Weeks pleaded guilty to 10 charges for offences that took place between November 2015 and June 2016, where he targeted young girls in Greater Victoria and Kamloops.

Central Saanich police said the teen girls went to police after Weeks sent them inappropriate online messages.

Weeks pleaded guilty to charges including making or publishing child porn, luring a child under 18 on a computer, invitation to sexual touching under 16 years old, criminal harassment and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.

Weeks was 18 years old at the time the crimes were committed.

- with files from CTV Vancouver Island

Woman shot in Surrey

Surrey RCMP were called to the Fleetwood area of Surrey after a woman was shot Friday night.

At approximately 7:20 p.m. on Dec. 15, police responded to a report of a shot fired inside of a residence in the 16100 Block of 92nd Ave.

“A female suffering from non-life threatening injuries was transported to hospital by ambulance,” said Staff Sgt. M.A. Hedderson.

Initial investigation is that a firearm was discharged in the residence, striking a 21-year-old female.  

A 21-year-old male, who is a resident of Surrey, has been taken into custody. 

“Officers are conducting neighbourhood canvassing and speaking with witnesses to obtain further information. The investigation is still in its early stages but initial indications are that all persons involved are known to each other,” said Hedderson.

Anyone with more information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 and quote file number 2017-178711.   

To make an anonymous report, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.

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